Presenter: Neal Howard
Guest: Dr. Kevin White
Guest Bio: Dr. Kevin White, a world authority on the condition known as Fibromyalgia. He is spreading the word about a new scanthat actually lets doctors “see pain” in the brain, where fibromyalgia resides. Dr. Kevin White has a medical degree, training in two specialties and a doctoral degree in medical research. He is an internationally known expert in the treatment and research of fibromyalgia. He is the award-winning author of BREAKING THRU THE FIBRO FOG: Scientific Proof Fibromyalgia Is Real. May 12 is International Fibro Awareness Day.
Dr. White discusses the multisystemic nature of Fibromyalgia and how it can cause physicians to mistakenly cease looking for other serious problems. Also discussed are how routine testing for many problems appear normal in Fibromyalgia patients. He also touches on how patients can take control of their treatment.
Health Professional Radio – Multisystemic Nature Of Fibromyalgia
Neal Howard: Hello. You’re listening to Health Professional Radio. I’m your host, Neal Howard. Our guest today is Dr. Kevin White. He’s a world-renowned expert in the field of treatment and research of fibromyalgia. It’s a chronic disease characterised by pain and fatigue, and many doctors actually don’t believe that it exists. Dr. White is not one of those physicians. He is on a quest to raise awareness and educate physicians and consumers as well about this debilitating disease called fibromyalgia. How are you doing today, Dr. White?
Dr. Kevin White: I’m doing great.
Neal: You’re the author of the book, Breaking Thru the Fibro Fog: Scientific Proof Fibromyalgia is Real. As far as fibromyalgia being real or not, is it a real disease?
Dr. White: It’s very much a real disease. We now have insurmountable evidence that this is a multi-systemic disease. You can find evidence on various scans of the brain, what we call functional scans where pain lights up in these people. We can see abnormalities in chemicals in the brain and in the spinal cord and spinal fluid that are what we call pain promoters and pain antagonists, and the levels are [inaudible 01:17] black. They have abnormalities in a variety of hormones. Thyroid levels often are too low. They have abnormal levels of serum cortisol.
Women who have high prolactin [sp] levels are 20 times as likely to have this condition and on and on and on. There are numerous abnormalities. There are abnormalities in the skin. In fact in people with fibromyalgia, you can do a test where if you electronically stimulate the skin and then you check the temperature, normally the skin temperature will go up, will rise and they will quickly fall.
But in people with fibromyalgia, there is a delayed rise in temperature and then a very prolonged duration of time or extent where it’s too warm before it cools off again and this is measurable. You can actually measure this. There’s an instrument called a thermograph where they can measure this. And so there are numerous abnormalities in these people that prove that there is something going on, and it’s going on at a physical or a physiological level. They’re not faking.
Neal: Now in your book, Breaking Thru the Fibro Fog, you say that many doctors don’t believe in fibromyalgia. Now these tests and these findings that you’ve discovered and seen with your own eyes, that’s how you’re sure that fibromyalgia is real. Why do you think that some other doctors don’t believe that it’s real?
Dr. White: First of all patients look normal. I mean, if they had a huge tumor popping out of their nose or something like that, then they would believe them but patients generally look normal. If you do routine laboratories, blood counts, sodium levels and things like that, they are normal in most people. So they do their routine evaluation and everything comes out normal so they go, “It’s just stress.”
But the fact is, is that we only test about 15, 20 things when we do our blood tests and there are thousands and thousands and thousands of chemicals in the body. I mean, it makes sense that in fact there are many diseases where these tests would be normal and in fact there are [inaudible 03:48] that are very well accepted where these tests are normal.
So anyone who’s had a surgery for tendonitis in their shoulder, often scans look normal and other things look normal or I don’t know … here in Canada, there’s a huge amount of interest now in something called post-concussion syndrome. It’s affected sports like football, you know football now even changed the rule because …
Neal: And that’s called sports concussion?
Dr. White: Yeah, post-concussion syndrome. In fact there’s less evidence that post-concussion syndrome is real, than there is for fibromyalgia, far less. That it’s believed because these are professional athletes and no one’s going to doubt them. But the fact is, is that there are many other conditions that we have far less evidence supported than fibromyalgia. Patients with fibromyalgia are discriminated against. Again, because many are middle-aged women who otherwise look normal and so it’s just passed on as being mid-life depression.
Neal: Basically if I’m hearing you correctly, the shroud of disbelief comes from not being able to detect it by conventional means. Is that correct? Or at least not being …
Dr. White: That’s correct.
Neal: So it is detectable, or is it not detectable with conventional means? That maybe one of the reasons why you chose the title for your book, Breaking Thru the Fibro Fog, what is exactly is the fibro fog?
Dr. White: Among people with fibromyalgia, one of the common symptoms is that they have this sort of mental cloudiness, in addition to the chronic pain and chronic fatigue and problems with sleep and everything else. Many of them have trouble concentrating. They have trouble with memory and concentration, and this can be quite profound. Some of them find they can’t talk on the phone because of this and it could be a real problem.
Anyway, so the reason I named it Breaking Thru the Fibro Fog is because I’m trying to clear away all of the misconceptions [indecipherable 06:11] fibromyalgia, the disease of loneliness, because there are so many misunderstandings about this condition. It’s a nonfatal disease but suicide rates are multiplied by 10 and heart disease, death rates are multiplied by two. Those are fatalities and yet no one talks about them. It’s an old woman’s disease, but in fact it starts in childhood in 10% to 20% cases. Half of the cases in women are present by the time the women are 35.
So again, there are all these misconceptions and I’m trying to just clear that away so that people could see what fibromyalgia really is and what it really isn’t. We tend to spend far less time with our patients than therapists do. We also don’t see the immediate effect. We prescribe a pill and maybe it’ll work, maybe it won’t. We won’t find out for weeks or months when the patient comes back. The therapist though, who’s hands-on knows right away. This is helping, this is not. This you can’t tolerate. This you can. And that brings people along much faster.
So I find that having a multidisciplinary approach, again it’s a multi-systemic disease. It makes sense. It needs a multidisciplinary approach, having some sort of therapist working with you, some sort of hands-on person working with you can make a world of difference. Sometimes dietary changes can be huge too. I took like one course … I think I had maybe 20 hours of nutrition in medical school and I’ve forgotten 19 hours and 59 minutes of it. So go to a dietician if you can, and find out how do you optimise you diet. That can make a huge difference, whether you need to lose weight or not.
A certain percentage of patients for example are gluten sensitive and if you identify that and put them on a gluten-free diet, some of them will have complete resolution of their symptoms. It’s only a small percentage, but I don’t want to miss that person. So again, it comes down to surrounding yourself [inaudible 08:27]. Surround yourself with the right people. Most doctors can’t do it all. The little pink pill rarely works. And so you need to have others working with you and you need to work yourself, to do as much as you can for yourself.
Neal: Effectively taking control of your own fibromyalgia issues goes a long way in the treatment and possibly even the alleviation or at least going into remission from this disease.
Dr. White: The more you do for yourself, the more control you have over your own healthcare. Nobody knows when your doctor is going to move or sometimes doctors die or sometimes they retire unexpectedly. Sometimes they get sick themselves and suddenly they’re not there anymore. So if you’ve surrounded yourself with a circle of people that you can go through in that eventuality that you no longer have that one doctor, you’re not lost.
Neal: And you have a good support group in place. You’re listening to Health Professional Radio. Our guest has been Dr. Kevin White, a world authority on the condition known as fibromyalgia. He’s also an author. His book, Breaking Thru the Fibro Fog: Scientific Proof that Fibromyalgia is Real, is available at amazon.com. You can also find more information at www.thefibrofog.com or by visiting www.wortleyroadbooks.com. It’s been a pleasure having you here with us today, Dr. White.
Dr. White: Thank you very much for having me on.
Neal: Transcripts of this program are available at healthprofessionalradio.com.au.